Former CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, has won the bidding war for the NBA franchise the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion dollar, according to reports.
Ballmer offered the highest price for any NBA franchise, beating the previous high of $550 million for the Milwaukee Bucks. The next best $1.2 billion and $1.6 billion offers from Tony Ressler-Bruce Karsh and David Geffen-led consortium, respectively, were rejected.
The deal is not yet signed by the current owner of the team, Donald Sterling, who was forced to sell the team after passing racial comments during a postseason game. According to the reports, Sterling was not involved in the negotiation and he is unwilling to sell the franchise.
Donald's wife and co-owner of the team Shelly Sterling concluded the deal and a binding agreement with Ballmer on Thursday and now the deal will be presented to the NBA. The deal also requires approval of three-fourth out of the 30 NBA team owners.
However, it is not expected to be a hindrance, as Ballmer has already stated that he is not intended to move the Clippers out of Los Angeles to his home town, Seattle.
"I don't work anymore, so I have more geographic flexibility than I did a year, year-and-a half ago," Ballmer was quoted by Wall Street Journal. "Moving them anywhere else would be value destructive."
Sterling owns 50 per cent stake in the team and his attorney, Bobby Samini, said the deal is not going to happen. "Sterling is not selling the team," Samini said. "That's his position. He's not going to sell."
Earlier, Donald had written a letter authorising his wife Shelly to "negotiate with the National Basketball Association regarding all issues in connection with a sale of the Los Angeles Clippers team", but the Clippers' owner changed his mind because of NBA's conduct towards him
Because of the racial remarks, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver imposed a life ban on Donald and slapped a $2.5 million fine. Samini said stripping the franchisee from his client makes no sense and they will fight for it.
"They're telling me he should stand back and let them take his team because his opinion on that particular day was not good, was not popular?" Samini said. "That his team should be stripped from him? It doesn't make sense. He's going to fight."
According to the ESPN, Donald's signatures might not be required as he has been found to be mentally incapacitated, giving his wife Shelly the power to negotiate with Ballmer as per the Sterling family trust.
The prices of NBA franchise have increased since the Bucks were acquired by New York investment firm executives Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry and Vivek Ranadive's group acquired a 65 per cent stake in the Sacramento Kings last year.